William Kahl

William F. Kahl

1922 - 2020

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Obituary of William F. Kahl

On December 4, 2020, William F. Kahl, devoted husband and loving father, passed away at the age of 98. “Bill,” as he was known to friends and family, was born May 23rd, 1922 in Newport, Rhode Island, to Bessie and William Kahl. He received his B.A. from Brown University, and his M.A. and PhD degrees from Harvard University, focusing on European history. While obtaining his masters, Bill taught at Boston University. After earning his Ph.D, he then moved to Simmons College where he met his future wife, Mary Hartwell Carson, of Rochester, New York. The two were married in 1964 in the Harvard chapel. Bill served as provost at Simmons College for close to a decade. He then accepted an invitation from Russell Sage College in Troy, New York, where he served as president from 1976 to his retirement in 1988. Bill was a devoted historian and strong advocate for women’s education. A child of the Depression, Bill learned early how empowering education can be. In fact, Bill embodied the dignity that knowledge and critical thinking confer. At both Simmons and Sage, he focused on modernizing the curriculum for women's education, opening the way for women to have careers beyond the prescribed roles of that era. He was active in the community, serving on multiple boards, some of which include the Hudson River Valley Association, Albany Symphony Orchestra, the State Bank of Albany, the Tenement Museum in New York City, Albany Institute of History and Art, the Wildwood School and Albany Academy for Girls. Bill was an avid reader who always had his nose planted in a newspaper or a book. When you could tear him away from his reading chair, he loved walking in nature, and visiting museums and historical sites. Bill and his wife, Mary, traveled extensively in Europe, Turkey, and China, and spent the summers enjoying the arts by listening to classical music at Tanglewood, watching the ballet at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, or attending an opera at Glimmerglass. Most of all, Bill was known for his dry sense of humor and his kind, caring, and compassionate spirit that he shared with students, colleagues, friends, and family. Bill was preceded in death by his two sisters, Avis and Evelyn Marden, and he is survived by his wife, Mary, and his two children, Frederick and Sarah Kahl. A memorial service will be held at a future date to be announced. Donations in his name may be made to the William F. and Mary C. Kahl Campus Center Endowment Fund at Russell Sage College, 65 1st Street, Troy NY 12180.